Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Soaring Wings 1/2 Marathon

Saturday Oct-25th was the second annual Soaring Wings 1/2 Marathon. I ran this last year and LOVED it!
This year the race fell exactly two weeks after the Long Beach Marathon and two weeks before the Mid South Marathon, so I went into it just wanting to have a nice steady paced race.
Arland was also running this year, I think he was injured last year otherwise I can't imagine him missing out on a 1/2 marathon especially one so close to home.

We left home about 6:15, the weather called for a cool morning but turning sunny and a bit warmer later in the day. I dressed in a skirt and sleevless tech shirt with a long sleeve tech shirt. The long sleeve shirt is very light, I knew I wouldn't be able to wear it the whole race but it is light enough that it wouldn't bother me too much to have it tied around my waist.
When we got to Conway we ended up having to park about .5 a mile from the Mc Gee center. This actually worked out for warming up but I was a little bit stressed worrying about picking up our packet and then having to take everything back to the car and then back to the start line. We had plenty of time but with my need to use the bathroom at least twice before a race I was a bit worried.
As we were walking/jogging to the Mc Gee center I ran into Voula from Pine Bluff. Missie and I met her at the Noah's Ark 10K at the beginning of October. I need to blog about that race sometime!

So Voula and I chatted and ran together for a bit and then as we turned into the parking lot at the Mc Gee center I saw Cheryl and Tammy. They were Volunteering at the race since they have the Bass Pro Marathon next weekend. I ran up and gave Cheryl a scare as I gave her a bear hug... I really don't get to see her very often anymore and I miss her.
Packet pick-up was pretty quick but the line for the bathroom was already very long, luckily I remembered there was one on the upstairs runnign track. So I ran up there and luckily had no line. I took my time and put my chip on while waiting for things to move along.
When I got back downstairs the gym was PACKED! I ran into Curtis D. who I haven't seen in ages, got a big hug from him and then set out to find Arland and James.
We all headed back to the cars got our bibs pinned on, I had to put Arland's chip on for him and then we were headed back to the start. As we were heading to the start line I realized I probably needed to use the bathroom one more time, luckily they had a row of port a potties about 100 feet or so from the start.
I got to see so many friends at this race!! I swear every couple of feet I was hugging someone and really is there a better way to start a race????

We lined up in the 2:00+ hour corral, I think the third one back. This was really actually a good corral to start in since I spent the rest of the race passing people.
My plan for the race was to start off slow and steady and if I felt good the second half I would pick it up. I watched James and Arland pull away from me immediately at the start and I mentally sent them off hoping that this race would give Arland his 1/2 PR. I had already taken off my long sleeve tech shirt and tied it around my waist, but just after we crossed the start line I saw Cheryl and asked if she would take it for me and of course she did :) I probably would have been ok, but it was such a relief not to have it anymore!! Thank you Cheryl!!!!
I had my i-pod and had it ready for whenever I felt the need for some music. I was kind of lonely, I didn't know any of the people around me so I turned it on within the first mile.
About 1.5 miles into the race I started getting the weirdest foot cramp, it hurt to bend my foot and I was MAD!! LOL I mean really a foot cramp?? I tried to run on it for a little while but finally pulled off the road and took my shoe off stretched, and when I put it back on I tied it a little looser. It took about a mile but by mile 3 I didn't feel anymore pain, but what I did feel was the need to use the bathroom. I had really hoped that my successful trip before the race would be good enough. The sensation kind of came and went but by mile 4 I knew I had to find a bathroom soon. Just before it was about to be an emergency I was relieved to see we were running back past the start and the row of port-a-potties from before. I was really bummed about having to stop and unfortunately had to spend a few minutes inside. When I came out a little bit ahead I saw Caitlyn C. on the sideline cheering everyone and taking pictures and I put on a big smile but on the inside I was sad! BUT this happens to me all of the time so I just had to shake it off and keep running.
The great thing was that other than those two problems early in the race everything else felt good.
I had my raspberry cream accel-gel at mile 5 I took it while running knowing that there had to be a water stop soon. Luckily I was right and soon after I finished my gel I had some water to wash it down. Last year at the Memphis Marathon I finally learned out to grab water at the aid stations and drink while running and I used this method the whole race. Other than the shoe thing and the bathroom break I never walked.
This race has a great course, we run through a lot of really pretty neighborhoods, and while there weren't any really big crowds there were lot's of family's outside to cheer us on. It also has quite a few hills, most of them were just rollers but there were 2 maybe 3 pretty good size ones as well.
Mile 8 I started to feel just a bit tired and was thinking still 5 miles to go, but then I thought to myself at least I dont' still have 18 miles left and that gave me a little bit of extra energy!
The whole race I was passing people and even if I wasn't really running that fast when you are passing people you feel fast!! LOL
Just past mile 10 I saw James up ahead of me walking. His stomach had really been bothering him before the race and he almost didn't start. When I caught up to him I gave him a smack on the butt and he started running with me. He told me he had to make several bathroom stops!! :( he said now he knows what it feels like to be Annette! :( poor baby, believe me it's no fun!!!
He asked me if I thought we would finish in 2 and half hours, I told him that I had calculated a 2:20 finish time. A minute or so later he asked if I knew i was running a 9:40 pace, I looked down at my Garmin and oh yeah I guess I was. I lost James soon after that, I think he had to find the bushes again :(
Mile 11 had another good size hill but once you make it up that one it is a nice long downhill and then flat back to the finish.
I wasn't exactly flying but I was so happy to be feeling so good!!! At about 12.5 I saw Jackie C. and a friend of her's heading back out on the course to find some of their group to cheer/run in with.
Jackie told me later that I looked so happy and I really was!!
Once I got to the last bit I turned on the speed a little bit and could hear my name being announced and I could hear it being screamed on the sidelines. Turns out my friend Missie and her daughter had come to cheer us all in!!
After the race was great, again so many good friends were there and it was just so nice to catch up with a bunch of them and get even more hugs!!!!
My offical finishing time was 2:19xx... not my fastest but with the obstacles I had in the first couple of miles I thought that was pretty respectable!!
One really important thing I came away with in this race was that several times I felt my energy levels drop and had moments when I thought this is going to get hard I need to slow down but each time it happened I would try to just hang on and those feelings would soon pass. Of course a marathon is a whole different animal but I need to learn to not give up so easily! especially mentally!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Long Beach Marathon - Race Day

We did not get to bed quite as early as I would have liked on Saturday night. I think it was almost 10:00 by the time we settled down and with a 4:00am wake-up time that did not give me as much sleep as I would have liked.
I set my Blackberry for 4:00am, thinking I could get up a little bit before everyone else and hopefully be able to "take care of business" before time for everyone else to get up.
I couldn't believe when the alarm went off, it really didnt feel like we had been in bed for very long!
I woke Michele up about 15 minutes later and then Bailey. Bailey is funny in the morning, well not funny but it is funny because she is such a grouch!!
James was planning on running the 1/2 marathon but he wasn't feeling well and had also been stressed out trying to figure out how he could run the 1/2 and make his way back to Anaheim in time to not miss too much of his conference, so he decided not to go. We were running a few minutes behind, well behind my desired time of departure, but I had given us a little bit of a cushion so I wasn't stressing too much.
We made our way to the car and Bailey was syncing up the tom-tom/Garmin thingy that was in the car. I looked at the clock and it said 2:53...Whaaaat oh OMG it was only 2:53 am. I really thought Bailey and Michele were going to kill me, especially Bailey!!! After we stopped laughing we decided we might as well go ahead on to the Race. For one it was a long walk to the parking garage, and two we didn't want James to know what we had done!!
So we had NO traffic on the way to the race and we had our choice of parking spots. We all got comfy and took a 3 hour nap in the car. Although it really wasn't that comfortable it really worked out great!
I think we woke up about 6 and headed to the port-a-potties it was early enough that the lines werent too long and I was able to have a successful visit.

It was cool temps at the start but not nearly as cold as it had been during Surf city, which was kind of stressing me a little bit.
I was worried about it getting too warm later in the marathon, but all that worry was unnecessary we really lucked out, it did warm up but it stayed cloudy the whole race, well until about mile 24.5 so I never felt too hot. Don't get me wrong I was sweaty but never felt uncomfortable.

The first 5 miles were pretty awful! The roads were very slanty, I know that's not a word but I can't think of the right word, whatever the roads sucked, and there was quite a bit of concrete and the course was so crowded!! I have run enough big races now to expect to have to dodge walkers in the first miles but it never fails to annoy me! Seriously some of these people had to have started in the Corrals ahead of us and it just doesn't make sense to me. Also if you are going to walk don't do it in the middle of the road!!!
I lost Michele and Bailey at the first aid station we had all stopped to get water but about 20 people surged in front of me and I never say Michele again.
Although I didn't love the first 5-6 miles of the course I was happy, I was running in So. California and that just makes me happy!!
I took my first Accel-gel about mile 4.5, I walked while I took it and drank water. It was about this time that I passed a row of port-a-potties and out comes Bailey. I called out to her and she slowed down and ran with me for a little while. I know in her heart she really wanted to run with me but it was so crowded and I was running at such a conservative pace it really was just impossible. She turned back for me once and I told her to go on, I didn't want to worry about her and I didn't want her to worry about me. It was bittersweet to watch her run off without me but it was also a relief.
I think we turned onto the beach path around mile 6, the next 3 miles were my favorite of the whole race, we had a great breeze and duh we were running on the beach!! I wish I could say it was perfect but the path was narrow and concrete and I was constantly dodging people.
The miles in between mile 9 and 18 are kind of a blur.
Oh I do remember one very important detail from mile 10, I had to take a bathroom break, I had been feeling the need for about a mile but was hoping it would pass, finally soon after the 10mile marker I knew I couldn't wait and luckily there was a row of port-a-potties ahead. It was a short line, and I did have to spend a few minutes inside. I was ok after the potty break and was still keeping a steady pace and feeling strong.
I was taking my accel-gels and also had a few almonds. This was the first marathon that I walked whenever I took my gels, normally I just take them while running and sometimes it takes me a mile or more to finish one.
Mile 15 was one more bathroom break, this time took a little longer and I didnt feel very good when I came out I never really regained my former pace, before that bathroom break I only walked to take a gel but after that I had to take a few more walk breaks, luckily since nothing was hurting it was easy to start running again after a short walk break.

this section was an out and back and we could see the faster runners heading back, I think it was about mile 21.5 for them, and I was about mile 16. It was here that I saw Danica from
I have been following her blog for close to a year. She is hilarous and a talented runner!
Anyway I saw her and I really wanted to yell out to her but you never know what kind of run someone else is having it was great to see her doing so well and I didnt' want to disturb her rythmn.

My second favorite part of the course was around mile 18 when we ran into the Cal State Long Beach campus and it was a big party!! Lot's of music, dancing and high fives! I loved this section and it gave me a surge of much needed energy.
I really wish I would have written this earlier when I still remembered more details. I remember running along and thinking I have to blog about this.. now I don't remember what "this" was :(
I do remember when I passed mile 20 thinking I had never felt this good this late in a marathon before. Oh I was tired and I had started taking walk breaks but nothing really hurt, no big toe pain no hip pain, I was pretty happy.
I also remember being disappointed in my pace but also telling myself that I had not really trained for a sub-5 marathon, I had trained for endurance and at that point was feeling like my training had been successful.
Bailey had finished her 1/2 and now had Michele's phone and she started sending me encouraging texts's. She reminded me that mile 18 was for Uncle Charlie, unfortunately I was already at 20 so I made that one for Uncle Charlie. I asked her who 21 was for, I was feeling in need of some extra encouragement. Her response... Mile 21 is for Brett and all those who serve with him. Of course I instantly started crying but I also ran that whole mile for Brett and all of service men and women serving overseas!!!

Mile 23 was when things really turned south. I started getting that weird pulsing/cramping thing just above my knee..kind of where the quad muscle connects to the knee, this creates some kind of chain reaction and all of a sudden my left calf was really cramping to the point I had to start walking. I would walk until the pulsing/cramping subsided and then I would run until it got to painful. I was thankful it didn't start until mile 23 but really would have been much happier if it had never happened!!
Around mile 24 or 25 as we are running along a group of people are on a balcony heckling the runners. It was kind of funny but annoying at the same time, I was running so they were actually cheering for me telling me I was doing great but they were giving this one guy a hard time he, was wearing a gray shirt and they were yelling hey grey shirt RUN, quit walking you wuss, RUN... on and on, they only took a break to cheer for me.. the guy in grey did start running and I said to him as I was passing I would like to see them try to run a marathon! That gave him a laugh and seemed to help a little.

The rest really is a blur, I do remember thinking I know Bailey is going to be somewhere near the finish line so I need to finish strong. I picked it up and everything was cramping but I could see the finish line and I really just wanted to be done!!!!!!
Sweet sweet finish line, Bailey was indeed there and I saw her right after I crossed the finish mat, and once I got through the maze of people there were cupcakes provided by a local bakery!! YUM!!
I was anxious to get my California Dreamin medal, and was searching all the tents to find it, finally I saw someone else with the medal and asked where they got it they showed me where the tent was and away I went. I also looking for Bailey and Michele but my priority was that medal!!
The guys at the tent were great they were very enthuastic in their praise on finishing the series!!
I found Bailey and we headed to Michele. I was feeling pretty good, I think it was the cupcake!!

We made our way back to the stop was In-n-Out Burger :)
I can't even thank Bailey enough for being our driver the whole weekend!!
We headed back to Anaheim for much needed showers, I was covered in salt!!! Michele, and Bailey were first and when I came out I could see Bailey was packing up to leave. I was SO sad to see her go, but she really needed to get on the road, she had a long drive back to San Jose ahead of her!!!!!!
After Bailey left it was just me and Michele, we were both exhausted so decided a nap would be a good thing. I put on my compression socks and crawled into bed. We probably slept close to 2 hours, and then James got back from his conference and it was time to go to dinner. He had made reservations at Roys Hawaiin Fusion restaurant. It was very yummy! Afterwards Michele and I walked over to Disney Land. We didn't realize how far the Entrance was, good thing or we probably wouldn't have gone. I was really wishing I had my Garmin on but I would guess it was about a 2 mile walk. We went to the ticket counter only to find out they didn't have any kind of evening/twilight rates and neither one of us wanted to pay $72.00 for just an hour or so. We did some shopping at the gift store outside of the entrance and then headed home. Good thing I had that nap earlier in the day!!
Total miles for the day at least 30! Of course walking is so good for recovery and we had our recovery socks on!

Another great trip to California and Marathon # 7 completed. Next marathon will be the Mid South Marathon in Wynne Arkansas on November 7th. Next trip to California will be in February for the Surf City Marathon, this time Arland is going too!!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Long Beach Marathon - Pre Race

Sunday October 11ths was the Long Beach Marathon and my third marathon in the California Dreamin race series.
Friday Michele, James and I met at the airport for our flight to LA. James had a Conference to attend in Anaheim on the exact days we were going to be in California for the Marathon, the timing could not have been better!! It saved us the hassle and expense of a rental car and Hotel.
I had even more luck along the way. We had a layover in Las Vegas and so I put $10.00 in the slots for fun and I walked away with $120.00. What a great way to start our trip!!

It was early afternoon when we arrived in California so we had plenty of time to head over to the Expo in Long Beach before heading to our Hotel in Anaheim. It was a nice Expo, not the biggest or best I've been to but big enough!
Since this was my third race in the California Dreamin series I got my jacket at the expo. It is a very nice jacket and I was very excited to get it... I love anything free, well I don't think free is the right word considering the cost of travelling to California for 3 marathons!! LOL
We picked up our packets and walked around for a little bit, James isn't much of an expo person and was ready to go pretty quick. I did get to stop by Dane Rauschenberg's booth and say hello before we left. I planned to buy his book and have him autograph it but James ushered us out before I got the chance. I am FB friends with Dane and I think I am doing a couple of the same races he is in the near future so maybe I will get my autograph copy afterall.

One more stop at Cold Stone Creamery and we were off to Anaheim. The last place I lived in California before moving to Arkansas as a teenager was Santa Ana, so it kind of felt like going home. Of course that was many years ago and everything has changed so much!! It didn't matter, I was just happy being in So. Calif!!

Once we checked into the room Michele headed straight for the bed! James was pretty hungry and I was starting to feel some hunger pangs myself. We tried to get her to go with us but she was too tired. Our plan was to walk over to Cheese Cake Factory but on the way we passed right by Morton's Steakhouse, we couldnt' resist and decided to eat there instead. Of course it was wonderful!!! but my goodness, the prices were a bit steep!!! Oh well when you hang with James you eat, sleep and travel in style :)
Bailey arrived while we were still at dinner, but between the order James placed for Michele and the leftovers there was plenty of food for both of them!!
It was so AWESOME to see Bailey!! She looks great and seems happy! Last spring she seperated from the Air Force and after a summer spent visting family moved to Okinawa Japan to help her brother take care of his little boy. They are lucky to have her!

We were staying at the Marriott and had a huge room, it had a queen size bed and a pull out couch, and seriously that was the most comfortable pull out bed I have ever slept in! actually more comfortable than some regular beds I have slept in!
Bailey and I shared the pull out bed and of course James and Michele shared the queen bed. It was kind of funny to all be in the same room, but it worked out fine. Bailey and I laid in bed and chatted for a while and then it was sleepy time.

Saturday morning we headed back to the Expo, Bailey got her jacket and it was a different style that I liked much better, I asked if I could trade even though I was wearing mine, and she said yes :)
After the Expo we headed to Oceanside to visit my Dad, stepmon, Aunt Leni, and Uncle Charlie. It was a long drive but luckily not too much traffic.
My dad grilled for us and Vanda had fresh salsa's, salad and fruit for us. Everything was yummy but i had to be careful about what I ate because of the Marathon the next day!!
I wish we would of had an extra day just to spend in Oceanside but when we go back in February I plan on staying at least 2 extra days! Arland will also be going and it will be his first trip ever to California! I can't wait!

We had to make a quick stop at Target before heading back to our room, by now James had finished a long day at the conference and was hungry so he and Michele went out in search of food. We were right across from Disneyland so the restaurants were packed! Bailey and I headed back to the room and started getting everything ready for the race. It really makes race morning go so much smoother when you have everything ready the night before!

I have to confess now that I did not exactly follow a "day before a marathon" nutrition plan. I tried a couple of new things at the Expo, we had In N Out Burger for lunch and then at my dad's I had fruit, a couple of slices of bratwurst, salsa etc. I really didn't go into this Marathon looking for a PR. My training runs were all geared towards endurance and not speed...................